Tropical storm Humberto heads toward Texas coast

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HOUSTON, Sep 13 (Reuters) Tropical Storm Humberto lumbered toward the Texas coast where it was expected to dump heavy rains as it moved in from the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm, with top winds of 80 kph, was 80 km south-southwest of the island city of Galveston at 0230 hrs IST and moving north at 11 kph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Rain from the storm already was pelting the coast and could total up to 38 cm after Humberto comes ashore late last night or early today, forecasters said.

''The big concern is heavy rains in areas that have already been saturated with rain for some months now,'' said Jack Colley, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

He said emergency teams had been placed in Houston and in Beaumont and Port Arthur near the Louisiana border.

Officials in Louisiana also began storm preparations as Humberto was expected to veer east after making landfall. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Port O'Connor, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana.

Rough seas ahead of the storm brought traffic to a standstill in the Houston Ship Channel, the gateway to the Port of Houston.

Southeastern Texas is a major oil-producing and gasoline-refining center, but industry officials said they were not expecting significant impact on operations.

Another storm, Tropical Depression 8, was brewing in the central Atlantic, with top winds of 35 mph (55 kph). It was expected to become a tropical storm on Wednesday night or on Thursday, forecasters said.

At 0230 hrs IST, it was located 1,065 miles (1,704 km) east of the Lesser Antilles islands of the eastern Caribbean Sea and moving west-northwest at 19 kph.

Reuters SZ VP0550

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